BEST VEGAN MAC AND CHEESE

I am so excited about this mac and cheese recipe! Granted, I’m always pretty excited about food, but I am particularly excited about this recipe. Like many people, I’ve loved mac and cheese since childhood, so I’ve been working on perfecting it for most of my years as a vegan. And in my (apparently not so humble) opinion, I think I may have finally done it!

You will love this dish because it is not only a satisfying, rich and creamy cheesy treat, it is also remarkably healthy. This means it’s totally acceptable to eat two (or three) full bowls, right…?

Also, the cheesy sauce is versatile. If you add a little less milk to the recipe below, you can use it as a thick and creamy nacho cheese sauce or drizzle it on vegetables. Broccoli smothered in cheese sauce? Yes please!

Cashew soaking time: 2-4 hours (optional)

Prep/cook time: 35 minutes

Yields approximately six servings

INGREDIENTS:

  • 5 cups macaroni or shell pasta of your choice, uncooked
  • 3/4 cups quinoa, uncooked
  • 6 cups kale, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon non-dairy butter (I use Earth Balance)

Cheesy Sauce:

  • 2 large onions, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon non-dairy butter
  • 1 1/2 cup (unsweetened, unflavoured) non-dairy milk
  • 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
  • 2 roasted red peppers
  • 1/2 cup raw cashews, soaked for 2 – 4 hours (soaking is optional)
  • 1/4 cup miso paste
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika (optional)
  • salt and pepper to taste

INSTRUCTIONS:

  • Soak the cashews in water for 2-4 hours. Drain and rinse. Set aside. If you are in a rush, this step is not necessary. When I haven’t planned ahead for this meal, I often soak cashews for just twenty or thirty minutes while I prepare the remaining ingredients.
  • Cook the pasta according to its instructions. Set aside. Use rice pasta if you wish to make the dish gluten free.
  • Cook the quinoa according to its instructions. Set aside.
  • Heat the non-dairy butter in a medium saucepan on medium heat. Sauté the onions for approximately 5 minutes, or until they begin to become translucent. Add the garlic and sauté for a couple more minutes. Do not brown the onions or garlic.
  • Add the cooked onions and garlic and the remaining cheesy sauce ingredients, including the cashews, to your high-speed blender. Blend on high for a couple of minutes, or until the sauce is smooth and creamy with no visible chunks. Add a small amount of additional milk if the sauce is too thick to blend. Add the cayenne pepper if you like a little spice. If you like more than a little spice, add a bit extra.
  • Heat the chopped kale in a large saucepan (or pot) on medium heat, for two minutes or until wilted. Stir in the cooked pasta and quinoa and the non-dairy butter. Pour on the cheesy sauce and mix well.
  • Serve and enjoy!

Snap a pic of your cheesy creations and tag me on Instagram @plant_hearted hashtag #planthearted!